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1.  Psychosomatic medicine and the philosophy of life 
Basing ourselves on the writings of Hans Jonas, we offer to psychosomatic medicine a philosophy of life that surmounts the mind-body dualism which has plagued Western thought since the origins of modern science in seventeenth century Europe. Any present-day account of reality must draw upon everything we know about the living and the non-living. Since we are living beings ourselves, we know what it means to be alive from our own first-hand experience. Therefore, our philosophy of life, in addition to starting with what empirical science tells us about inorganic and organic reality, must also begin from our own direct experience of life in ourselves and in others; it can then show how the two meet in the living being. Since life is ultimately one reality, our theory must reintegrate psyche with soma such that no component of the whole is short-changed, neither the objective nor the subjective. In this essay, we lay out the foundational components of such a theory by clarifying the defining features of living beings as polarities. We describe three such polarities:
1) Being vs. non-being: Always threatened by non-being, the organism must constantly re-assert its being through its own activity.
2) World-relatedness vs. self-enclosure: Living beings are both enclosed with themselves, defined by the boundaries that separate them from their environment, while they are also ceaselessly reaching out to their environment and engaging in transactions with it.
3) Dependence vs. independence: Living beings are both dependent on the material components that constitute them at any given moment and independent of any particular groupings of these components over time.
We then discuss important features of the polarities of life: Metabolism; organic structure; enclosure by a semi-permeable membrane; distinction between "self" and "other"; autonomy; neediness; teleology; sensitivity; values. Moral needs and values already arise at the most basic levels of life, even if only human beings can recognize such values as moral requirements and develop responses to them.
doi:10.1186/1747-5341-5-2
PMCID: PMC2823620  PMID: 20089202
2.  The literature of medical ethics: A review of the writings of Hans Jonas 
Journal of Medical Ethics  1976;2(1):39-43.
Hans Jonas, who was trained in Germany in the 1920s as a philosopher, had written studies of gnosticism while still living in Germany and some of his work in that field was published after he had left the country. After the Second World War Jonas settled in the United States of America where he is now the Alvin Johnson Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York City. For some years Hans Jonas has directed his research to philosophical studies of medical ethics, in particular to the problems created by recent advances in medical technology. His first book on this theme, `The Phenomenon of Life: Towards a Philosophical Biology', provides the philosophical background to his latest studies and was published in 1966. The essays included in that volume date from 1950 onwards. His second, `Philosophical Essays: From Ancient Creed to Technological Man', continues his analysis and argument from 1964 to the present day but is more particularly concerned with the practical problems of medical ethics encountered by clinicians and research workers, for example, experiments on comatose patients. Dr Cooper in this review outlines in some detail the theses of these volumes.
PMCID: PMC2495113  PMID: 784996
3.  Beyond voluntary consent: Hans Jonas on the moral requirements of human experimentation. 
Journal of Medical Ethics  1993;19(2):99-103.
In his essay, Philosophical Reflections on Experimenting with Human Subjects, Hans Jonas contends that except in cases of widespread medical emergencies, people do not have a moral or social obligation to volunteer to be subjects in medical experiments. He further argues that any appeal for volunteer subjects in medical experiments should whenever possible give priority to those who can identify with the project and offer a strong sense of commitment to its goals. The first of these claims is given support against some recent criticisms, but argument is offered to show that the second claim not only does little to enhance the stature of the standard requirement of free and informed consent but may even weaken the moral validity of the consent.
PMCID: PMC1376196  PMID: 8331645
4.  An interview with Mark G. Hans 
It is a great honor to conduct an interview with Professor Mark G. Hans, after following his outstanding work ahead of the Bolton-Brush Growth Study Center and the Department of Orthodontics at the prestigious Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine (CWRU) in Cleveland, Ohio. Born in Berea, Ohio, Professor Mark Hans attended Yale University in New Haven, CT, and earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry. Upon graduation, Dr. Hans received his DDS and Masters Degree of Science in Dentistry with specialty certification in Orthodontics at Case Western Reserve University. During his education, Dr. Hans' Master's Thesis won the Harry Sicher Award for Best Research by an Orthodontic Student and being granted a Presidential Teaching Fellowship. As one of the youngest doctors ever certified by the American Board of Orthodontics, Dr. Hans continues to maintain his board certification. He has worked through academics on a variety of research interests, that includes the demographics of orthodontic practice, digital radiographic data, dental and craniofacial genetics, as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, with selected publications in these fields. One of his noteworthy contributions to the orthodontic literature came along with Dr. Donald Enlow on the pages of "Essentials of Facial Growth", being reference on the study of craniofacial growth and development. Dr. Mark Hans's academic career is linked to CWRU, recognized as the renowned birthplace of research on craniofacial growth and development, where the classic Bolton-Brush Growth Study was historically set. Today, Dr. Hans is the Director of The Bolton-Brush Growth Study Center, performing, with great skill and dedication, the handling of the larger longitudinal sample of bone growth study. He is Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Orthodontics, working in clinical and theoretical activities with students of the Undergraduate Course from the School of Dental Medicine and residents in the Department of Orthodontics at CWRU. Part of his clinical practice at the university is devoted to the treatment of craniofacial anomalies and to special needs patients. Prof. Mark Hans has been wisely conducting the Joint Cephalometric Experts Group (JCEG) since 2008, held at the School of Dental Medicine (CWRU). He coordinates a team composed of American, Asian, Brazilian and European researchers and clinicians, working on the transition from 2D cephalometrics to 3D cone beam imaging as well as 3D models for diagnosis, treatment planning and assessment of orthodontic outcomes. Dr. Hans travels to different countries to give lectures on his fields of interest. Besides, he still maintains a clinical orthodontic practice at his private office. In every respect, Dr. Hans coordinates all activities with particular skill and performance. Married to Susan, they have two sons, Thomas and Jack and one daughter, Sarah and he enjoys playing jazz guitar for family and friends.
Matilde da Cunha Gonçalves Nojima
doi:10.1590/2176-9451.19.3.026-035.int
PMCID: PMC4296620  PMID: 25162563
5.  ARE HONORS RECEIVED DURING SURGERY CLERKSHIPS USEFUL IN THE SELECTION OF INCOMING ORTHOPAEDIC RESIDENTS? 
The purpose of this study was to review institutional statistics provided in dean's letters and determine the percentage of honors awarded by institution and clerkship specialty.
Institutional and clerkship aggregate data were compiled from a review of dean's letters from 80 United States medical schools. The percentage of honors awarded during 3rd year clerkships during 2005 were collected for analysis. Across clerkship specialties, there were no statistically significant differences between the mean percentage of honors given by the medical schools examined with Internal Medicine (27.6%) the low and Psychiatry (33.5%) the high. However, inter-institutional variability observed within each clerkship was high, with surgery clerkship percentage of honors ranging from 2% to 75% of the students. This suggests some schools may be more lenient and other more stringent in awarding honors to their students. This inter-institutional variability makes it difficult to compare honors received by students from different medical schools and weakens the receipt of honors as a primary tool for evaluating potential incoming residents.
PMCID: PMC2723699  PMID: 19742092
6.  Place and Cause of Death in Centenarians: A Population-Based Observational Study in England, 2001 to 2010 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(6):e1001653.
Catherine J. Evans and colleagues studied how many and where centenarians in England die, their causes of death, and how these measures have changed from 2001 to 2010.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Centenarians are a rapidly growing demographic group worldwide, yet their health and social care needs are seldom considered. This study aims to examine trends in place of death and associations for centenarians in England over 10 years to consider policy implications of extreme longevity.
Methods and Findings
This is a population-based observational study using death registration data linked with area-level indices of multiple deprivations for people aged ≥100 years who died 2001 to 2010 in England, compared with those dying at ages 80-99. We used linear regression to examine the time trends in number of deaths and place of death, and Poisson regression to evaluate factors associated with centenarians’ place of death. The cohort totalled 35,867 people with a median age at death of 101 years (range: 100–115 years). Centenarian deaths increased 56% (95% CI 53.8%–57.4%) in 10 years. Most died in a care home with (26.7%, 95% CI 26.3%–27.2%) or without nursing (34.5%, 95% CI 34.0%–35.0%) or in hospital (27.2%, 95% CI 26.7%–27.6%). The proportion of deaths in nursing homes decreased over 10 years (−0.36% annually, 95% CI −0.63% to −0.09%, p = 0.014), while hospital deaths changed little (0.25% annually, 95% CI −0.06% to 0.57%, p = 0.09). Dying with frailty was common with “old age” stated in 75.6% of death certifications. Centenarians were more likely to die of pneumonia (e.g., 17.7% [95% CI 17.3%–18.1%] versus 6.0% [5.9%–6.0%] for those aged 80–84 years) and old age/frailty (28.1% [27.6%–28.5%] versus 0.9% [0.9%–0.9%] for those aged 80–84 years) and less likely to die of cancer (4.4% [4.2%–4.6%] versus 24.5% [24.6%–25.4%] for those aged 80–84 years) and ischemic heart disease (8.6% [8.3%–8.9%] versus 19.0% [18.9%–19.0%] for those aged 80–84 years) than were younger elderly patients. More care home beds available per 1,000 population were associated with fewer deaths in hospital (PR 0.98, 95% CI 0.98–0.99, p<0.001).
Conclusions
Centenarians are more likely to have causes of death certified as pneumonia and frailty and less likely to have causes of death of cancer or ischemic heart disease, compared with younger elderly patients. To reduce reliance on hospital care at the end of life requires recognition of centenarians’ increased likelihood to “acute” decline, notably from pneumonia, and wider provision of anticipatory care to enable people to remain in their usual residence, and increasing care home bed capacity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Background
People who live to be more than 100 years old—centenarians—are congratulated and honored in many countries. In the UK, for example, the Queen sends a personal greeting to individuals on their 100th birthday. The number of UK residents who reach this notable milestone is increasing steadily, roughly doubling every 10 years. The latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures indicate that 13,350 centenarians were living in the UK in 2012 (20 centenarians per 100,000 people in the population) compared to only 7,740 in 2002. If current trends continue, by 2066 there may be more than half a million centenarians living in the UK. And similar increases in the numbers of centenarians are being seen in many other countries. The exact number of centenarians living worldwide is uncertain but is thought to be around 317,000 and is projected to rise to about 18 million by the end of this century.
Why Was This Study Done?
Traditional blessings often include the wish that the blessing’s recipient lives to be at least 100 years old. However, extreme longevity is associated with increasing frailty—declining physical function, increasing disability, and increasing vulnerability to a poor clinical outcome following, for example, an infection. Consequently, many centenarians require 24-hour per day care in a nursing home or a residential care home. Moreover, although elderly people, including centenarians, generally prefer to die in a home environment rather than a clinical environment, many centenarians end up dying in a hospital. To ensure that centenarians get their preferred end-of-life care, policy makers and clinicians need to know as much as possible about the health and social needs of this specific and unique group of elderly people. In this population-based observational study, the researchers examine trends in the place of death and factors associated with the place of death among centenarians in England over a 10-year period.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted information about the place and cause of death of centenarians in England between 2001 and 2010 from the ONS death registration database, linked these data with area level information on deprivation and care-home bed capacity, and analyzed the data statistically. Over the 10-year study period, 35,867 centenarians (mainly women, average age 101 years) died in England. The annual number of centenarian deaths increased from 2,823 in 2001 to 4,393 in 2010. Overall, three-quarters of centenarian death certificates stated “old age” as the cause of death. About a quarter of centenarians died in the hospital, a quarter died in a nursing home, and a third died in a care home without nursing; only one in ten centenarians died at home. The proportion of deaths in a nursing home increased slightly over the study period but there was little change in the number of hospital deaths. Compared with younger age groups (80–84 year olds), centenarians were more likely to die from pneumonia and “old age” and less likely to die from cancer and heart disease. Among centenarians, dying in the hospital was more likely to be reported to be associated with pneumonia or heart disease than with dementia; death in the hospital was also associated with having four or more contributing causes of death and with living in a deprived area. Finally, living in an area with a higher care-home bed capacity was associated with a lower risk of dying in the hospital.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that many centenarians have outlived death from the chronic diseases that are the common causes of death among younger groups of elderly people and that dying in the hospital is often associated with pneumonia. Overall, these findings suggest that centenarians are a group of people living with a risk of death from increasing frailty that is exacerbated by acute lung infection. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by the quality of UK death certification data. Although this is generally high, the strength of some of the reported associations may be affected, for example, by the tendency of clinicians to record the cause of death in the very elderly as “old age” to provide some comfort to surviving relatives. Importantly, however, these findings suggest that care-home capacity and the provision of anticipatory care should be increased in England (and possibly in other countries) to ensure that more of the growing number of centenarians can end their long lives outside hospital.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001653.
The US National Institute on Aging provides information about healthy aging, including information on longevity (in English and Spanish)
The National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, England is a government organization that gathers data on care provided to adults approaching the end of life to improve service quality and productivity
The Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance promotes universal access to affordable palliative care through the support of regional and national palliative care organizations
The non-for-profit organization AgeUK provides information about all aspects of aging
Wikipedia has a page on centenarians (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The International Longevity Centre-UK is an independent, non-partisan think tank dedicated to addressing issues of longevity, ageing and population; its “Living Beyond 100” report examines the research base on centenarians and calls for policy to reflect the ongoing UK increase in extreme longevity
This study is part of GUIDE_Care, a project initiated by the Cicely Saunders Institute to investigate patterns in place of death and the factors that affect these patterns
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001653
PMCID: PMC4043499  PMID: 24892645
7.  Donor Funding for Newborn Survival: An Analysis of Donor-Reported Data, 2002–2010 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001332.
With recent increases in development assistance money for maternal and child health, Catherine Pitt and colleagues examine whether foreign aid specifically for newborns has changed, whether it's on par with the burden of newborn deaths worldwide, and how such funding can be tracked.
Background
Neonatal mortality accounts for 43% of global under-five deaths and is decreasing more slowly than maternal or child mortality. Donor funding has increased for maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH), but no analysis to date has disaggregated aid for newborns. We evaluated if and how aid flows for newborn care can be tracked, examined changes in the last decade, and considered methodological implications for tracking funding for specific population groups or diseases.
Methods and Findings
We critically reviewed and categorised previous analyses of aid to specific populations, diseases, or types of activities. We then developed and refined key terms related to newborn survival in seven languages and searched titles and descriptions of donor disbursement records in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Creditor Reporting System database, 2002–2010. We compared results with the Countdown to 2015 database of aid for MNCH (2003–2008) and the search strategy used by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Prior to 2005, key terms related to newborns were rare in disbursement records but their frequency increased markedly thereafter. Only two mentions were found of “stillbirth” and only nine references were found to “fetus” in any spelling variant or language. The total value of non-research disbursements mentioning any newborn search terms rose from US$38.4 million in 2002 to US$717.1 million in 2010 (constant 2010 US$). The value of non-research projects exclusively benefitting newborns fluctuated somewhat but remained low, at US$5.7 million in 2010. The United States and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provided the largest value of non-research funding mentioning and exclusively benefitting newborns, respectively.
Conclusions
Donor attention to newborn survival has increased since 2002, but it appears unlikely that donor aid is commensurate with the 3.0 million newborn deaths and 2.7 million stillbirths each year. We recommend that those tracking funding for other specific population groups, diseases, or activities consider a key term search approach in the Creditor Reporting System along with a detailed review of their data, but that they develop their search terms and interpretations carefully, taking into account the limitations described.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 1990, 12 million children—most of them living in developing countries—died before they reached their fifth birthday. Faced with this largely avoidable loss of young lives, in 2000, world leaders set a target of reducing under-five mortality (deaths) to one-third of its 1990 level by 2015 as Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4); this goal, together with seven others, aims to eradicate extreme poverty globally. In recent years, progress towards reducing child mortality has accelerated but remains insufficient to achieve MDG4, in part, because progress towards reducing neonatal mortality—deaths during the first 28 days of life—has been particularly slow. Neonatal deaths now account for a greater proportion of global child deaths than in 1990—43% of the 7 million children who died before their fifth birthday in 2011 died during the neonatal period. The major causes of neonatal deaths are complications of preterm and term delivery and infections. Simple interventions such as improved hygiene at birth and advice on breastfeeding can substantially reduce neonatal deaths.
Why Was This Study Done?
To achieve MDG4, more must be done to prevent deaths among newborn babies. One reason that progress in reducing neonatal mortality is slow could be insufficient donor funding (aid) for newborn health. Previous analyses by, for example, Countdown to 2015 (which tracks coverage levels for health interventions that reduce maternal, newborn, and child mortality) indicate that donor funding has increased for maternal, newborn, and child health over the past decade, but how much of this aid directly benefits newborns is unknown. Here, the researchers develop a method for tracking aid flows for newborns and examine changes in this flow over the past decade by applying their new strategy to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Creditor Reporting System (CRS) Aid Activity database. This database collects information about official development assistance for health given (disbursed) to developing countries by member countries of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, international organizations, and some private donors.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed a comprehensive set of search terms related to newborn survival by piloting it on the Countdown to 2015 official development assistance database, which covers the years 2003–2008. They then used their list of 24 key terms to search the CRS database from 2002 (the first year for which relatively complete disbursement data are available) to 2010 (the most recent year for which data are available) and classified each retrieved project according to whether its funding activities aimed to benefit newborns exclusively or to improve the health of other population groups as well. The researchers found that key terms related to newborns were rare in disbursement records before 2005 but that their frequency increased markedly thereafter. The total value of non-research disbursements (aid provided for programmatic or advocacy activities) that mentioned any newborn search terms increased from US$38.4 million in 2002 to US$717.1 million in 2010. The value of non-research projects that exclusively benefitted newborns fluctuated; in 2010, it was $US5.7 million. Finally, the US and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provided the largest value of non-research funding mentioning newborns and exclusively benefitting newborns, respectively.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the value of aid disbursements mentioning newborns or an activity likely to benefit newborns increased 20-fold between 2002 and 2010 and constituted an increasing proportion of aid for maternal, newborn, and child health. Although this increase may partly reflect increased detail in aid disbursement reporting, it is also likely to reflect an increase in donor attention to newborn survival. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by limitations in the search strategy and in the CRS database, which does not capture aid flows from emerging donors such as China or from many private foundations. Moreover, because these findings take no account of domestic expenditure, they do not provide a comprehensive estimate of the value of resources available in developing countries for newborn health. Nevertheless, investment in newborn survival is unlikely to be commensurate with global newborn mortality. Thus, an expansion of programmatic funding from donors as well as increased governmental support for newborn health in developing countries is urgently needed to catalyze the scale-up of cost-effective interventions to save newborn lives and to meet MDG4.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001332.
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on Millennium Development Goal 4 and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about child survival and health, including the 2012 report of UN Inter-agency Group of Child Mortality Estimation; its Committing to Child Survival: a Promise Renewed webpage includes links to its 2012 progress report, to a video about progress made in reducing child deaths worldwide, and to stories about child survival in the field
The World Health Organization has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and about maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (some information in several languages)
Countdown to 2015 provides additional information on maternal, newborn, and child survival, including its 2012 report Building a Future for Women and Children
The Healthy Newborn Network (HNN) is a community of more than 70 partner organizations addressing critical knowledge gaps for newborn health providing recent data on newborn survival and analyses of country programs
Information on and access to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development Creditor Reporting System Aid Activities database is available
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001332
PMCID: PMC3484125  PMID: 23118619
8.  Child Mortality Estimation: A Comparison of UN IGME and IHME Estimates of Levels and Trends in Under-Five Mortality Rates and Deaths 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001288.
Leontine Alkema and Danzhen You compare and summarize differences in underlying data and modelling approaches used by two key groups who publish data on global under-5 mortality rates
Background
Millennium Development Goal 4 calls for a reduction in the under-five mortality rate (U5MR) by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. In 2011, estimates were published by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The difference in the U5MR estimates produced by the two research groups was more than 10% and corresponded to more than ten deaths per 1,000 live births for 10% of all countries in 1990 and 20% of all countries in 2010, which can lead to conflicting conclusions with respect to countries' progress. To understand what caused the differences in estimates, we summarised differences in underlying data and modelling approaches used by the two groups, and analysed their effects.
Methods and Findings
UN IGME and IHME estimation approaches differ with respect to the construction of databases and the pre-processing of data, trend fitting procedures, inclusion and exclusion of data series, and additional adjustment procedures. Large differences in U5MR estimates between the UN IGME and the IHME exist in countries with conflicts or civil unrest, countries with high HIV prevalence, and countries where the underlying data used to derive the estimates were different, especially if the exclusion of data series differed between the two research groups. A decomposition of the differences showed that differences in estimates due to using different data (inclusion of data series and pre-processing of data) are on average larger than the differences due to using different trend fitting methods.
Conclusions
Substantial country-specific differences between UN IGME and IHME estimates for U5MR and the number of under-five deaths exist because of various differences in data and modelling assumptions used. Often differences are illustrative of the lack of reliable data and likely to decrease as more data become available. Improved transparency on methods and data used will help to improve understanding about the drivers of the differences.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2010, more than seven million children died before they reached their fifth birthday, and the global under-five mortality rate (also denoted in the literature as U5MR and 5q0) was 57 deaths per 1,000 live births. Most deaths before the age of five years occur in developing countries (about half occur in just five countries—India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, and China), and most are caused by preventable or treatable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Faced with this largely avoidable loss of young lives, in 1990, the United Nations (UN) World Summit for Children pledged to improve the survival of children. Later, in 2000, world leaders set a target of reducing under-five mortality to one-third of its 1990 level (12 million) by 2015, as Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4). This goal, together with seven others, is designed to improve the social, economic, and health conditions in the world's poorest countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although progress towards MDG 4 is accelerating, MDG 4 is unlikely to be reached. It is important, therefore, to know which countries are making poor progress towards MDG 4 so that extra resources can be concentrated in these areas. To monitor both national and global progress, accurate, up-to-date estimates of U5MR are essential. The first step in estimating U5MR is the collection of data on child deaths, usually through vital registration systems (which record all births and deaths) in developed countries and through surveys that ask women about their living and dead children in developing countries. Country-specific U5MR estimates that are comparable over time and across countries are obtained from these data using a statistical process called trend fitting. Two groups—the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)—recently published new estimates of the levels and trends in U5MR and under-five deaths across the world. However, their estimates differ somewhat and, for some countries, disagree on the progress being made towards MDG 4. Here, the researchers examine the differences in the underlying data and the trend fitting approaches used by the UN IGME and the IHME to try to understand why their estimates are different.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers first compared the estimates produced by the two groups. From 1990 to 2010, the UN IGME's global estimates of U5MR and under-five deaths were consistently slightly higher than those of the IHME. For example, in 2010, the UN IGME and IMHE estimates of U5MR were 56.7 and 53.9 deaths per 1,000 births, respectively. However, although the global estimates from the two groups were broadly similar, there were important differences between the two sets of estimates at the country level, particularly in countries where there was conflict or civil unrest (for example, Somalia) or high HIV prevalence. The researchers then examined the data used by the two groups to estimate under-five deaths and U5MR, the method used for U5MR trend fitting, and additional adjustment procedures (for example, the UN IGME incorporates feedback from experts and country consultations in its estimates). The UN IGME and IHME estimation approaches included differences in all of these areas, but differences in the data used caused on average larger differences in the estimates than the use of different trend fitting methods did.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the substantial country-specific differences between UN IGME and IHME estimates for U5MR and the number of under-five deaths are the result of several differences between the data and trend fitting methods used by the two groups. In particular, the findings indicate that the lack of reliable data in many developing countries, especially those where there is civil unrest or ongoing conflicts, is often responsible for differences in estimates. These differences should, therefore, decrease as more reliable data become available. For now, though, the differences between the UN IGME and IHME national estimates of child mortality may cause confusion about the true extent of progress towards MDG 4 and could foster policy inactivity if the reasons for the discrepancies are not made clear. The researchers call, therefore, for more transparency on the methods and data used in the estimation of U5MR and for a concerted effort by governments, UN agencies, and non-governmental organizations to improve the collection of reliable data on child deaths.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001288.
This paper is part of a collection of papers on Child Mortality Estimation Methods published in PLOS Medicine
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on Millennium Development Goal 4, and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about child survival and health, including a description of the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation and a link to its database; the 2011 UN IGME report on Levels and Trends in Child Mortality is available
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation website includes a summary of their 2011 analysis of U5MR and under-five deaths
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001288
PMCID: PMC3429386  PMID: 22952434
9.  Effect of Removing Direct Payment for Health Care on Utilisation and Health Outcomes in Ghanaian Children: A Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1000007.
Background
Delays in accessing care for malaria and other diseases can lead to disease progression, and user fees are a known barrier to accessing health care. Governments are introducing free health care to improve health outcomes. Free health care affects treatment seeking, and it is therefore assumed to lead to improved health outcomes, but there is no direct trial evidence of the impact of removing out-of-pocket payments on health outcomes in developing countries. This trial was designed to test the impact of free health care on health outcomes directly.
Methods and Findings
2,194 households containing 2,592 Ghanaian children under 5 y old were randomised into a prepayment scheme allowing free primary care including drugs, or to a control group whose families paid user fees for health care (normal practice); 165 children whose families had previously paid to enrol in the prepayment scheme formed an observational arm. The primary outcome was moderate anaemia (haemoglobin [Hb] < 8 g/dl); major secondary outcomes were health care utilisation, severe anaemia, and mortality. At baseline the randomised groups were similar. Introducing free primary health care altered the health care seeking behaviour of households; those randomised to the intervention arm used formal health care more and nonformal care less than the control group. Introducing free primary health care did not lead to any measurable difference in any health outcome. The primary outcome of moderate anaemia was detected in 37 (3.1%) children in the control and 36 children (3.2%) in the intervention arm (adjusted odds ratio 1.05, 95% confidence interval 0.66–1.67). There were four deaths in the control and five in the intervention group. Mean Hb concentration, severe anaemia, parasite prevalence, and anthropometric measurements were similar in each group. Families who previously self-enrolled in the prepayment scheme were significantly less poor, had better health measures, and used services more frequently than those in the randomised group.
Conclusions
In the study setting, removing out-of-pocket payments for health care had an impact on health care-seeking behaviour but not on the health outcomes measured.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (#NCT00146692).
Evelyn Ansah and colleagues report on whether removing user fees has an impact on health care-seeking behavior and health outcomes in households with children in Ghana.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every year, about 10 million children worldwide die before their fifth birthday. About half these deaths occur in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Here, 166 children out of every 1,000 die before they are five. A handful of preventable diseases—acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, malaria, measles, and HIV/AIDS—are responsible for most of these deaths. For all these diseases, delays in accessing medical care contribute to the high death rate. In the case of malaria, for example, children are rarely taken to a clinic or hospital (formal health care) when they first develop symptoms, which include fever, chills, and anemia (lack of red blood cells). Instead, they are taken to traditional healers or given home remedies (informal health care). When they are finally taken to a clinic, it is often too late to save their lives. Many factors contribute to this delay in seeking formal health care. Sometimes, health care simply isn't available. In other instances, parents may worry about the quality of the service provided or may not seek formal health care because of their sociocultural beliefs. Finally, many parents cannot afford the travel costs and loss of earnings involved in taking their child to a clinic or the cost of the treatment itself.
Why Was This Study Done?
The financial cost of seeking formal health care is often the major barrier to accessing health care in poor countries. Consequently, the governments of several developing countries have introduced free health care in an effort to improve their nation's health. Such initiatives have increased the use of formal health care in several African countries; the introduction of user fees in Ghana in the early 1980s had the opposite effect. It is generally assumed that an increase in formal health care utilization improves health—but is this true? In this study, the researchers investigate the effect of removing direct payment for health care on health service utilization and health outcomes in Ghanaian children in a randomized controlled trial (a trial in which participants are randomly assigned to an “intervention” group or “control” group and various predefined outcomes are measured).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled nearly 2,600 children under the age of 5 y living in a poor region of Ghana. Half were assigned to the group in which a prepayment scheme (paid for by the trial) provided free primary and basic secondary health care—this was the intervention arm. The rest were assigned to the control group in which families paid for health care. The trial's main outcome was the percentage of children with moderate anemia at the end of the malaria transmission season, an indicator of the effect of the intervention on malaria-related illness. Other outcomes included health care utilization (calculated from household diaries), severe anemia, and death. The researchers report that the children in the intervention arm attended formal health care facilities slightly more often and informal health care providers slightly less often than those in the control arm. About 3% of the children in both groups had moderate anemia at the end of the malaria transmission season. In addition, similar numbers of deaths, cases of severe anemia, fever episodes, and known infections with the malaria parasite were recorded in both groups of children.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, in this setting, the removal of out-of-pocket payments for health care changed health care-seeking behavior but not health outcomes in children. This lack of a measured effect does not necessarily mean that the provision of free health care has no effect on children's health—it could be that the increase in health care utilization in the intervention arm compared to the control arm was too modest to produce a clear effect on health. Alternatively, in Ghana, the indirect costs of seeking health care may be more important than the direct cost of paying for treatment. Although the findings of this trial may not be generalizable to other countries, they nevertheless raise the possibility that providing free health care might not be the most cost-effective way of improving health in all developing countries. Importantly, they also suggest that changes in health care utilization should not be used in future trials as a proxy measure of improvements in health.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000007.
This research article is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Valéry Ridde and Slim Haddad
The World Health Organization provides information on child health and on global efforts to reduce child mortality, Millennium Development Goal 4; it also provides information about health in Ghana
The United Nations Web site provides further information on all the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed to by the nations of the world in 2000 with the aim of ending extreme poverty by 2015 (in several languages)
The UK Department for International Development also provides information on the progress that is being made toward reducing child mortality
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000007
PMCID: PMC2613422  PMID: 19127975
10.  Child Mortality Estimation: Estimating Sex Differences in Childhood Mortality since the 1970s 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001287.
Cheryl Sawyer uses new methods to generate estimates of sex differences in child mortality which can be used to pinpoint areas where these differences in mortality merit closer examination.
Introduction
Producing estimates of infant (under age 1 y), child (age 1–4 y), and under-five (under age 5 y) mortality rates disaggregated by sex is complicated by problems with data quality and availability. Interpretation of sex differences requires nuanced analysis: girls have a biological advantage against many causes of death that may be eroded if they are disadvantaged in access to resources. Earlier studies found that girls in some regions were not experiencing the survival advantage expected at given levels of mortality. In this paper I generate new estimates of sex differences for the 1970s to the 2000s.
Methods and Findings
Simple fitting methods were applied to male-to-female ratios of infant and under-five mortality rates from vital registration, surveys, and censuses. The sex ratio estimates were used to disaggregate published series of both-sexes mortality rates that were based on a larger number of sources. In many developing countries, I found that sex ratios of mortality have changed in the same direction as historically occurred in developed countries, but typically had a lower degree of female advantage for a given level of mortality. Regional average sex ratios weighted by numbers of births were found to be highly influenced by China and India, the only countries where both infant mortality and overall under-five mortality were estimated to be higher for girls than for boys in the 2000s. For the less developed regions (comprising Africa, Asia excluding Japan, Latin America/Caribbean, and Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand), on average, boys' under-five mortality in the 2000s was about 2% higher than girls'. A number of countries were found to still experience higher mortality for girls than boys in the 1–4-y age group, with concentrations in southern Asia, northern Africa/western Asia, and western Africa. In the more developed regions (comprising Europe, northern America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand), I found that the sex ratio of infant mortality peaked in the 1970s or 1980s and declined thereafter.
Conclusions
The methods developed here pinpoint regions and countries where sex differences in mortality merit closer examination to ensure that both sexes are sharing equally in access to health resources. Further study of the distribution of causes of death in different settings will aid the interpretation of differences in survival for boys and girls.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2000, world leaders agreed to eradicate extreme poverty by 2015. To help track progress towards this global commitment, eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set. MDG 4, which aims to reduce child mortality, calls for a reduction in under-five mortality (the number of children who die before their fifth birthday) to a third of its 1990 level of 12 million by 2015. The under-five mortality rate is also denoted in the literature as U5MR and 5q0. Progress towards MDG 4 has been substantial, but with only three years left to reach it, efforts to strengthen child survival programs are intensifying. Reliable estimates of trends in childhood mortality are pivotal to these efforts. So, since 2004, the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) has used statistical regression models to produce estimates of trends in under-five mortality and infant mortality (death before age one year) from data about childbearing and child survival collected by vital registration systems (records of all births and deaths), household surveys, and censuses.
Why Was This Study Done?
In addition to estimates of overall childhood mortality trends, information about sex-specific childhood mortality trends is desirable to monitor progress towards MDG 4, although the interpretation of trends in the relative mortality of girls and boys is not straightforward. Newborn girls survive better than newborn boys because they are less vulnerable to birth complications and infections and have fewer inherited abnormalities. Thus, the ratio of infant mortality among boys to infant mortality among girls is greater than one, provided both sexes have equal access to food and medical care. Beyond early infancy, girls and boys are similarly vulnerable to infections, so the sex ratio of deaths in the 1–4-year age group is generally lower than that of infant mortality. Notably, as living conditions improve in developing countries, infectious diseases become less important as causes of death. Thus, in the absence of sex-specific differences in the treatment of children, the sex ratio of childhood mortality is expected be greater than one and to increase as overall under-five mortality rates in developing countries decrease. In this study, the researcher evaluated national and regional changes in the sex ratios of childhood mortality since the 1970s to investigate whether girls and boys have equal access to medical care and other resources.
What Did the Researcher Do and Find?
The researcher developed new statistical fitting methods to estimate trends in the sex ratio of mortality for infants and young children for individual countries and world regions. When considering individual countries, the researcher found that for 92 countries in less developed regions, the median sex ratio of under-five mortality increased between the 1970s and the 2000s, in line with the expected changes just described. However, the average sex ratio of under-five mortality for less developed regions, weighted according to the number of births in each country, did not increase between the 1970s and 2000s, at which time the average under-five mortality rate of boys was about 2% higher than that of girls. This discrepancy resulted from India and China—the two most populous developing countries—having sex ratios for both infant and under-five mortality that remained constant or declined over the study period and were below one in the 2000s, a result that indicates excess female mortality. In China, for example, infant mortality was found to be 12% higher for boys than for girls in the 1970s, but 24% lower for boys than for girls in the 2000s. Finally, although in the less developed regions (excluding India and China) girls went from having a slight survival disadvantage at ages 1–4 years in the 1970s, on average, to having a slight advantage in the 2000s, girls remained more likely to die than boys in this age group in several Asian and African countries.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although the quality of the available data is likely to affect the accuracy of these findings, in most developing countries the ratio of male to female under-five mortality has increased since the 1970s, in parallel with the decrease in overall childhood mortality. Notably, however, in a number of developing countries—including several each in sub-Saharan Africa, northern Africa/western Asia, and southern Asia—girls have higher mortality than boys at ages 1–4 years, and in India and China girls have higher mortality in infancy. Thus, girls are benefitting less than boys from the overall decline in childhood mortality in India, China, and some other developing countries. Further studies are needed to determine the underlying reasons for this observation. Nevertheless, the methods developed here to estimate trends in sex-specific childhood mortality pinpoint countries and regions where greater efforts should be made to ensure that both sexes have equal access to health care and other important resources during early life.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001287.
This paper is part of a collection of papers on Child Mortality Estimation Methods published in PLOS Medicine
The United Nations Childrens Fund works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on Millennium Development Goal 4, and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about child survival and health, including a description of the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation; the 2011 UN IGME report Levels & Trends in Child Mortality is available
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
A 2011 report by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs entitled Sex Differentials in Childhood Mortality is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001287
PMCID: PMC3429399  PMID: 22952433
11.  Redox Pioneer: Professor Joseph Loscalzo 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2010;13(7):1125-1132.
Abstract
Professor Joseph Loscalzo
Dr. Joseph Loscalzo (M.D., 1978; Ph.D., 1977) is recognized here as a Redox Pioneer because he has published two articles in the field of antioxidant/redox biology that have been cited more than 1,000 times and 22 articles that have been cited more than 100 times. Dr. Loscalzo is known for his seminal contributions to our understanding of the vascular biology of nitric oxide. His initial discovery that the antiplatelet effects of organic nitrates are potentiated by thiols through a mechanism that involved metabolism to S-nitrosothiols was followed by the demonstration that S-nitrosothiols are formed endogenously through S-transnitrosation, stabilize nitric oxide, and facilitate the transport and transfer of nitric oxide between and within cells of the vessel wall. These properties led to the development of S-nitrosothiol–containing pharmacotherapies to treat disease states characterized by nitric oxide deficiency. Dr. Loscalzo's other scientific contributions include identifying the vascular functional consequences of genetic deficiencies of antioxidant enzymes that decrease nitric oxide bioavailability, collectively termed the “oxidative enzymopathies,” and demonstrating the role of mitochondria in modulating the disulfide subproteome, and in redox signaling in hypoxia. He has received numerous awards and honors for his scientific contributions, including election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 13, 1125–1132.
doi:10.1089/ars.2010.3205
PMCID: PMC2959177  PMID: 20443733
12.  Reframing climate change as a public health issue: an exploratory study of public reactions 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:299.
Background
Climate change is taking a toll on human health, and some leaders in the public health community have urged their colleagues to give voice to its health implications. Previous research has shown that Americans are only dimly aware of the health implications of climate change, yet the literature on issue framing suggests that providing a novel frame - such as human health - may be potentially useful in enhancing public engagement. We conducted an exploratory study in the United States of people's reactions to a public health-framed short essay on climate change.
Methods
U.S. adult respondents (n = 70), stratified by six previously identified audience segments, read the essay and were asked to highlight in green or pink any portions of the essay they found "especially clear and helpful" or alternatively "especially confusing or unhelpful." Two dependent measures were created: a composite sentence-specific score based on reactions to all 18 sentences in the essay; and respondents' general reactions to the essay that were coded for valence (positive, neutral, or negative). We tested the hypothesis that five of the six audience segments would respond positively to the essay on both dependent measures.
Results
There was clear evidence that two of the five segments responded positively to the public health essay, and mixed evidence that two other responded positively. There was limited evidence that the fifth segment responded positively. Post-hoc analysis showed that five of the six segments responded more positively to information about the health benefits associated with mitigation-related policy actions than to information about the health risks of climate change.
Conclusions
Presentations about climate change that encourage people to consider its human health relevance appear likely to provide many Americans with a useful and engaging new frame of reference. Information about the potential health benefits of specific mitigation-related policy actions appears to be particularly compelling. We believe that the public health community has an important perspective to share about climate change, a perspective that makes the problem more personally relevant, significant, and understandable to members of the public.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-299
PMCID: PMC2898822  PMID: 20515503
13.  A tribute to Robert Edwards and Howard Jones Jr 
“2010 was a fascinating year. Robert Edwards finally received the Nobel prize for Medicine and his friend in the United States, Howard W. Jones Jr. was honored in Denver by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) upon his Centennial Birthday. He turned 100 on December 30th”
PMCID: PMC3991406  PMID: 24753845
14.  Examining the relationship between typical drinking behavior and 21st birthday drinking behavior among college students: implications for event-specific prevention 
Addiction (Abingdon, England)  2008;104(5):760-767.
Aims
The purpose of this research was to: (i) compare 21st birthday drinking with typical drinking; (ii) assess the prevalence of negative consequences and risk behaviors experienced during the 21st birthday week; and (iii) examine the role of typical drinking and 21st birthday drinking in explaining 21st birthday week negative consequences and risk behaviors.
Setting and participants
Participants (n = 306; 50% male) included college students turning 21 at a Midwestern public university in the United States.
Design and measurement
Approximately 1 week prior to their 21st birthday, students completed measures of typical past 3-month alcohol consumption via a web-based survey. Following their birthday, students (n = 296; 50% male) completed measures of 21st birthday week drinking as well as negative consequences and risk behaviors.
Findings
Findings indicated that students consumed considerably larger amounts of alcohol during the week of their 21st birthdays in comparison to typical weekly consumption. Additionally, students experienced a variety of negative consequences and risk behaviors during the week of their 21st birthday, including hangovers, vomiting and not remembering part of the previous evening. Negative binomial regression results indicated that those most likely to experience more negative consequences and risk behaviors associated with 21st birthday drinking were those who consumed heavy amounts of alcohol the week of their birthday, but who did not typically drink excessively.
Conclusions
Findings underscore the need to develop event-specific prevention approaches for occasions associated with extreme drinking and provide direction for considering who may be at greatest risk for problems associated with celebratory drinking.
doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02518.x
PMCID: PMC2684626  PMID: 19344447
Alcohol; alcohol-related problems; college students; event-specific drinking; event-specific prevention; 21st birthday
15.  Presentation of the 2009 Morris F Collen Award to Betsy L Humphreys, with remarks from the recipient 
The American College of Medical Informatics is an honorary society established to recognize those who have made sustained contributions to the field. Its highest award, for lifetime achievement and contributions to the discipline of medical informatics, is the Morris F Collen Award. Dr Collen's own efforts as a pioneer in the field stand out as the embodiment of creativity, intellectual rigor, perseverance, and personal integrity. The Collen Award, given once a year, honors an individual whose attainments have, throughout a whole career, substantially advanced the science and art of biomedical informatics. In 2009, the college was proud to present the Collen Award to Betsy Humphreys, MLS, deputy director of the National Library of Medicine. Ms Humphreys has dedicated her career to enabling more effective integration and exchange of electronic information. Her work has involved new knowledge sources and innovative strategies for advancing health data standards to accomplish these goals. Ms Humphreys becomes the first librarian to receive the Collen Award. Dr Collen, on the occasion of his 96th birthday, personally presented the award to Ms Humphreys.
doi:10.1136/jamia.2010.005728
PMCID: PMC2995660  PMID: 20595319
16.  Child Mortality Estimation: Appropriate Time Periods for Child Mortality Estimates from Full Birth Histories 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001289.
Jon Pedersen and Jing Liu examine the feasibility and potential advantages of using one-year rather than five-year time periods along with calendar year-based estimation when deriving estimates of child mortality.
Background
Child mortality estimates from complete birth histories from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) surveys and similar surveys are a chief source of data used to track Millennium Development Goal 4, which aims for a reduction of under-five mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. Based on the expected sample sizes when the DHS program commenced, the estimates are usually based on 5-y time periods. Recent surveys have had larger sample sizes than early surveys, and here we aimed to explore the benefits of using shorter time periods than 5 y for estimation. We also explore the benefit of changing the estimation procedure from being based on years before the survey, i.e., measured with reference to the date of the interview for each woman, to being based on calendar years.
Methods and Findings
Jackknife variance estimation was used to calculate standard errors for 207 DHS surveys in order to explore to what extent the large samples in recent surveys can be used to produce estimates based on 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-y periods. We also recalculated the estimates for the surveys into calendar-year-based estimates. We demonstrate that estimation for 1-y periods is indeed possible for many recent surveys.
Conclusions
The reduction in bias achieved using 1-y periods and calendar-year-based estimation is worthwhile in some cases. In particular, it allows tracking of the effects of particular events such as droughts, epidemics, or conflict on child mortality in a way not possible with previous estimation procedures. Recommendations to use estimation for short time periods when possible and to use calendar-year-based estimation were adopted in the United Nations 2011 estimates of child mortality.
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2000, world leaders set, as Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), a target of reducing global under-five mortality (the number of children who die before their fifth birthday to a third of its 1990 level (12 million deaths per year) by 2015. (The MDGs are designed to alleviate extreme poverty by 2015.) To track progress towards MDG 4, the under-five mortality rate (also shown as 5q0) needs to be estimated both “precisely” and “accurately.” A “precise” estimate has a small random error (a quality indicated by a statistical measurement called the coefficient of variance), and an “accurate” estimate is one that is close to the true value because it lacks bias (systematic errors). In an ideal world, under-five mortality estimates would be based on official records of births and deaths. However, developing countries, which are where most under-five deaths occur, rarely have such records, and under-five mortality estimation relies on “complete birth histories” provided by women via surveys. These are collected by Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS, a project that helps developing countries collect data on health and population trends) and record all the births that a surveyed woman has had and the age at death of any of her children who have died.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because the DHS originally surveyed samples of 5,000–6,000 women, estimates of under-five mortality are traditionally calculated using data from five-year time periods. Over shorter periods with this sample size, the random errors in under-five mortality estimates become unacceptably large. Nowadays, the average DHS survey sample size is more than 10,000 women, so it should be possible to estimate under-five mortality over shorter time periods. Such estimates should be able to track the effects on under-five mortality of events such as droughts and conflicts better than estimates made over five years. In this study, the researchers determine appropriate time periods for child mortality estimates based on full birth histories, given different sample sizes. Specifically, they ask whether, with the bigger sample sizes that are now available, details about trends in under-five mortality rates are being missed by using the estimation procedures that were developed for smaller samples. They also ask whether calendar-year-based estimates can be calculated; mortality is usually estimated in “years before the survey,” a process that blurs the reference period for the estimate.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a statistical method called “jackknife variance estimation” to determine coefficients of variance for child mortality estimates calculated over different time periods using complete birth histories from 207 DHS surveys. Regardless of the estimation period, half of the estimates had a coefficient of variance of less than 10%, a level of random variation that is generally considered acceptable. However, within each time period, some estimates had very high coefficients of variance. These estimates were derived from surveys where there was a small sample size, low fertility (the women surveyed had relatively few babies), or low child mortality. Other analyses show that although the five-year period estimates had lower standard errors than the one-year period estimates, the latter were affected less by bias than the five-year period estimates. Finally, estimates fixed to calendar years rather than to years before the survey were more directly comparable across surveys and brought out variations in child mortality caused by specific events such as conflicts more clearly.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that although under-five mortality rate estimates based on five-year periods of data have been the norm, the sample sizes currently employed in DHS surveys make it feasible to estimate mortality for shorter periods. The findings also show that using shorter periods of data in estimations of the under-five mortality rate, and using calendar-year-based estimation, reduces bias (makes the estimations more accurate) and allows the effects of events such as droughts, epidemics, or conflict on under-five mortality rates to be tracked in a way that is impossible when using five-year periods of data. Given these findings, the researchers recommend that time periods shorter than five years should be adopted for the estimation of under-five mortality and that estimations should be pegged to calendar years rather than to years before the survey. Both recommendations have already been adopted by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME) and were used in their 2011 analysis of under-five mortality.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001289.
This paper is part of a collection of papers on Child Mortality Estimation Methods published in PLOS Medicine
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on Millennium Development Goal 4, and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about child survival and health, including a description of the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation; the 2011 IGME report on Levels and Trends in Child Mortality is available
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
Information is also available about Demographic and Health Surveys of infant and child mortality
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001289
PMCID: PMC3429388  PMID: 22952435
17.  Child Mortality Estimation: Consistency of Under-Five Mortality Rate Estimates Using Full Birth Histories and Summary Birth Histories 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001296.
Romesh Silva assesses and analyzes differences in direct and indirect methods of estimating under-five mortality rates using data collected from full and summary birth histories in Demographic and Health Surveys from West Africa, East Africa, Latin America, and South/Southeast Asia.
Background
Given the lack of complete vital registration data in most developing countries, for many countries it is not possible to accurately estimate under-five mortality rates from vital registration systems. Heavy reliance is often placed on direct and indirect methods for analyzing data collected from birth histories to estimate under-five mortality rates. Yet few systematic comparisons of these methods have been undertaken. This paper investigates whether analysts should use both direct and indirect estimates from full birth histories, and under what circumstances indirect estimates derived from summary birth histories should be used.
Methods and Findings
Usings Demographic and Health Surveys data from West Africa, East Africa, Latin America, and South/Southeast Asia, I quantify the differences between direct and indirect estimates of under-five mortality rates, analyze data quality issues, note the relative effects of these issues, and test whether these issues explain the observed differences. I find that indirect estimates are generally consistent with direct estimates, after adjustment for fertility change and birth transference, but don't add substantial additional insight beyond direct estimates. However, choice of direct or indirect method was found to be important in terms of both the adjustment for data errors and the assumptions made about fertility.
Conclusions
Although adjusted indirect estimates are generally consistent with adjusted direct estimates, some notable inconsistencies were observed for countries that had experienced either a political or economic crisis or stalled health transition in their recent past. This result suggests that when a population has experienced a smooth mortality decline or only short periods of excess mortality, both adjusted methods perform equally well. However, the observed inconsistencies identified suggest that the indirect method is particularly prone to bias resulting from violations of its strong assumptions about recent mortality and fertility. Hence, indirect estimates of under-five mortality rates from summary birth histories should be used only for populations that have experienced either smooth mortality declines or only short periods of excess mortality in their recent past.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
In 1990, 12 million children died before they reached their fifth birthday. Faced with this largely avoidable loss of young lives, in 2000, world leaders set a target of reducing under-five mortality (death) to one-third of its 1990 level by 2015 as Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4); this goal, together with seven others, aims to eradicate extreme poverty globally. To track progress towards MDG 4, experts need accurate estimates of the global and country-specific under-five mortality rate (U5MR, the probability of a child dying before age five). The most reliable sources of data for U5MR estimation are vital registration systems—national records of all births and deaths. Unfortunately, developing countries, which are where most childhood deaths occur, rarely have such records, so full or summary birth histories provide the data for U5MR estimation instead. In full birth histories (FBHs), which are collected through household surveys such as those conducted by Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), women are asked for the date of birth of all their children and the age at death of any children who have died. In summary birth histories (SBHs), which are collected through household surveys and censuses, women are asked how many children they have had and how many are alive at the time of the survey.
Why Was This Study Done?
“Direct” estimates of U5MRs can be obtained from FBHs because FBHs provide detailed information about the date of death and the exposure of children to the risk of dying. By contrast, because SBHs do not contain information on children's exposure to the risk of dying, “indirect” estimates of U5MR are obtained from SBHs using model life tables (mathematical models of the variation of mortality with age). Indirect estimates are often also derived from FBHs, but few systematic comparisons of direct and indirect methods for U5MR estimation have been undertaken. In this study, Romesh Silva investigates whether direct and indirect methods provide consistent U5MR estimates from FBHs and whether there are any circumstances under which indirect methods provide more reliable U5MR estimates than direct methods.
What Did the Researcher Do and Find?
The researcher used DHS data from West Africa, East Africa, Latin America, and South/Southeast Asia to quantify the differences between direct and indirect estimates of U5MR calculated from the same data and analyzed possible reasons for these differences. Estimates obtained using a version of the “Brass” indirect estimation method were uniformly higher than those obtained using direct estimation. Indirect and direct estimates generally agreed, however, after adjustment for changes in fertility—the Brass method assumes that country-specific fertility (the number of children born to a woman during her reproductive life) remains constant—and for birth transference, an important source of data error in FBHs that arises because DHS field staff can lessen their workload by recording births as occurring before a preset cutoff date rather than after that date. Notably, though, for countries that had experienced political or economic crises, periods of excess mortality due to conflicts, or periods during which the health transition had stalled (as countries become more affluent, overall mortality rates decline and noncommunicable diseases replace infectious diseases as the major causes of death), marked differences between indirect and direct estimates of U5MR remained, even after these adjustments.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Because the countries included in this study do not have vital registration systems, these findings provide no information about the validity of either direct or indirect estimation methods for U5MR estimation. They suggest, however, that for countries where there has been a smooth decline in mortality or only short periods of excess mortality, both direct and indirect methods of U5MR estimation work equally well, after adjustment for changes in fertility and for birth transference, and that indirect estimates add little to the insights provided into childhood mortality by direct estimates. Importantly, the inconsistencies observed between the two methods that remain after adjustment suggest that indirect U5MR estimation is more susceptible to bias (systematic errors that arise because of the assumptions used to estimate U5MR) than direct estimation. Thus, indirect estimates of U5MR from SBHs should be used only for populations that have experienced either smooth mortality declines or only short periods of excess mortality in their recent past.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001296.
This paper is part of a collection of papers on Child Mortality Estimation Methods published in PLOS Medicine
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on Millennium Development Goal 4, and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about child survival and health, including a description of the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation; the 2011 UN IGME report Levels & Trends in Child Mortality is available
The World Health Organization has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
Information is available about infant and child mortality data collected by Demographic and Health Surveys
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001296
PMCID: PMC3429405  PMID: 22952436
18.  Four Children and Yale: The Making of a Human Geneticist 
Dr. Leon E. Rosenberg delivered the following presentation as the Grover Powers Lecturer on May 14, 2014, which served as the focal point of his return to his “adult home” as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. Grover F. Powers, MD, was one of the most influential figures in American Pediatrics and certainly the leader who created the modern Department of Pediatrics at Yale when he was recruited in 1921 from Johns Hopkins and then served as its second chairman from 1927 to 1951. Dr. Powers was an astute clinician and compassionate physician and fostered and shaped the careers of countless professors, chairs, and outstanding pediatricians throughout the country. This lectureship has continued yearly since it first honored Dr. Powers in 1956. The selection of Dr. Rosenberg for this honor recognizes his seminal role at Yale and throughout the world in the fostering and cultivating of the field of human genetics. Dr. Rosenberg served as the inaugural Chief of a joint Division of Medical Genetics in the Departments of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine; he became Chair when this attained Departmental status. Then he served as Dean of the Medical School from 1984 to 1991, before he became President of the Pharmaceutical Research Institute at Bristol-Myers Squibb and later Senior Molecular Biologist and Professor at Princeton University, until his recent retirement. Dr. Rosenberg has received numerous honors that include the Borden Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the McKusick Leadership Award from the American Society for Human Genetics, and election to the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.
PMCID: PMC4144292  PMID: 25191153
19.  Treatment of Infections in Young Infants in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Frontline Health Worker Diagnosis and Antibiotic Access 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(10):e1001741.
Anne C. C. Lee and colleagues assess the factors affecting access to treatment for neonatal and infant infections in low- and middle-income countries by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of frontline health worker diagnosis and access to antibiotics.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Inadequate illness recognition and access to antibiotics contribute to high case fatality from infections in young infants (<2 months) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We aimed to address three questions regarding access to treatment for young infant infections in LMICs: (1) Can frontline health workers accurately diagnose possible bacterial infection (pBI)?; (2) How available and affordable are antibiotics?; (3) How often are antibiotics procured without a prescription?
Methods and Findings
We searched PubMed, Embase, WHO/Health Action International (HAI), databases, service provision assessments (SPAs), Demographic and Health Surveys, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys, and grey literature with no date restriction until May 2014. Data were identified from 37 published studies, 46 HAI national surveys, and eight SPAs. For study question 1, meta-analysis showed that clinical sign-based algorithms predicted bacterial infection in young infants with high sensitivity (87%, 95% CI 82%–91%) and lower specificity (62%, 95% CI 48%–75%) (six studies, n = 14,254). Frontline health workers diagnosed pBI in young infants with an average sensitivity of 82% (95% CI 76%–88%) and specificity of 69% (95% CI 54%–83%) (eight studies, n = 11,857) compared to physicians. For question 2, first-line injectable agents (ampicillin, gentamicin, and penicillin) had low variable availability in first-level health facilities in Africa and South Asia. Oral amoxicillin and cotrimoxazole were widely available at low cost in most regions. For question 3, no studies on young infants were identified, however 25% of pediatric antibiotic purchases in LMICs were obtained without a prescription (11 studies, 95% CI 18%–34%), with lower rates among infants <1 year. Study limitations included potential selection bias and lack of neonatal-specific data.
Conclusions
Trained frontline health workers may screen for pBI in young infants with relatively high sensitivity and lower specificity. Availability of first-line injectable antibiotics appears low in many health facilities in Africa and Asia. Improved data and advocacy are needed to increase the availability and appropriate utilization of antibiotics for young infant infections in LMICs.
Review Registration
PROSPERO International prospective register of systematic reviews (CRD42013004586).
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Neonatal mortality—death that occurs during the first 28 days of life—accounts for nearly half of all the deaths that occur in children before they reach their fifth birthday. Worldwide, nearly 3 million neonatal deaths occur every year. Three bacterial infections—sepsis (infection of the bloodstream), pneumonia (infection of the lungs), and meningitis (infection of the brain's protective covering)—are responsible for nearly a quarter of all neonatal deaths. Babies born in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are at particularly high risk of developing neonatal bacterial infections because the risk factors for these infections, which include maternal infections and unhygienic delivery care, are more common in LMICs than in high-income countries. Babies born in LMICs are also at a high risk of dying from bacterial infections because access to appropriate medical care and antibiotics is often poor.
Why Was This Study Done?
To reduce neonatal deaths from bacterial infections in LMICs, health care experts need to identify the factors that limit access to medical care and antibiotics in these countries. Are babies dying because health care providers fail to diagnose neonatal bacterial infections, because antibiotics are not available in first-line health facilities, or for some other reason? In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers investigate access to treatment for neonatal bacterial infections in LMICs by first asking whether frontline health workers in LMICs can accurately diagnose bacterial infections in neonates and young infants (babies less than 2 months old). Next, they ask whether antibiotics for treating neonatal infections are available and affordable in LMICs. Finally, they ask how often antibiotics are procured for young children (children up to the age of 5 years) without a prescription. A systematic review uses pre-defined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; meta-analysis uses statistical methods to combine the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 37 published studies, 46 surveys of drug availability and affordability in LMICs (Health Access International databases), and eight surveys of the capacity of health facilities in LMICs to provide quality health care services (service provision assessments) that met their inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis of six studies indicated that a combination of simple clinical signs for the diagnosis of bacterial infection in children predicted very severe disease in young infants with a sensitivity of 87% and a specificity of 62% (“sensitivity” indicates the percentage of true positives detected by a test; “specificity” indicates the percentage of healthy people that a test correctly identifies as healthy) compared to a physician's diagnosis with laboratory testing. Meta-analysis of eight studies indicated that frontline health workers (for example, community health workers) diagnosed very severe disease (including possible bacterial infection) in young infants with a sensitivity of 82% and a specificity of 69% compared to trained physicians. The national surveys analyzed indicated that first-level (primary) health facilities in Africa and South Asia had low, variable stocks of recommended first-line injectable antibiotics and that the cost of these drugs was high. By contrast, some oral antibiotics were widely available at low cost in most regions. Finally, meta-analysis of 11 studies indicated that, in LMICs, 25% of antibiotic purchases for the treatment of young children were obtained without a prescription.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that trained frontline health workers should be able to identify most young infants who have possible bacterial infections in LMICs but may also diagnose bacterial infections in many young infants who are not infected. This may lead to the inappropriate use of antibiotics and facilitate the emergence of antibiotic resistance. These findings also show that the availability and affordability of first-line injectable antibiotics is low in many health facilities in Africa and Asia. The lack of neonatal-specific data on illness recognition, antibiotic formulations and availability, and other aspects of this systematic review and meta-analysis are likely to limit the accuracy of these findings. Nevertheless, the researchers suggest that, to decrease the neonatal death toll in LMICs, governments, policymakers, and the pharmaceutical industry need to work together to improve the diagnosis of neonatal bacterial infections and to increase the availability, affordability, and appropriate use of antibiotics for the treatment of these infections.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001741.
WHO provides information on global efforts to reduce global child mortality and on ending preventable neonatal deaths (available in several languages)
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on global efforts to reduce child mortality , and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about neonatal survival and health; its “Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed” webpage includes links to its 2013 progress report and to videos about ending preventable child deaths
The WHO has published a report entitled UN Commission on Life Saving Commodities for Women and Children
The Healthy Newborn Network (NHH) is an online community of more than 80 partner organizations that addresses critical knowledge gaps in newborn health; its website includes information on neonatal infections in LMICs
Kidshealth, a resource provided by the not-for-profit Nemours Foundation, has information for parents on neonatal infections (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page on neonatal sepsis (in English and Spanish)
A personal story about fatal neonatal bacterial meningitis is available on the website of Meningitis UK, a not-for-profit organization; the site also includes a survivor story
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001741
PMCID: PMC4196753  PMID: 25314011
20.  Risk of Early-Onset Neonatal Infection with Maternal Infection or Colonization: A Global Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001502.
Grace Chan and coauthors conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies evaluating the risk of neonatal infection or colonization during the first seven days of life among newborns of mothers with bacterial infection or colonization during the intrapartum period.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Neonatal infections cause a significant proportion of deaths in the first week of life, yet little is known about risk factors and pathways of transmission for early-onset neonatal sepsis globally. We aimed to estimate the risk of neonatal infection (excluding sexually transmitted diseases [STDs] or congenital infections) in the first seven days of life among newborns of mothers with bacterial infection or colonization during the intrapartum period.
Methods and Findings
We searched PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and the World Health Organization Regional Databases for studies of maternal infection, vertical transmission, and neonatal infection published from January 1, 1960 to March 30, 2013. Studies were included that reported effect measures on the risk of neonatal infection among newborns exposed to maternal infection. Random effects meta-analyses were used to pool data and calculate the odds ratio estimates of risk of infection. Eighty-three studies met the inclusion criteria. Seven studies (8.4%) were from high neonatal mortality settings. Considerable heterogeneity existed between studies given the various definitions of laboratory-confirmed and clinical signs of infection, as well as for colonization and risk factors. The odds ratio for neonatal lab-confirmed infection among newborns of mothers with lab-confirmed infection was 6.6 (95% CI 3.9–11.2). Newborns of mothers with colonization had a 9.4 (95% CI 3.1–28.5) times higher odds of lab-confirmed infection than newborns of non-colonized mothers. Newborns of mothers with risk factors for infection (defined as prelabour rupture of membranes [PROM], preterm <37 weeks PROM, and prolonged ROM) had a 2.3 (95% CI 1.0–5.4) times higher odds of infection than newborns of mothers without risk factors.
Conclusions
Neonatal infection in the first week of life is associated with maternal infection and colonization. High-quality studies, particularly from settings with high neonatal mortality, are needed to determine whether targeting treatment of maternal infections or colonization, and/or prophylactic antibiotic treatment of newborns of high risk mothers, may prevent a significant proportion of early-onset neonatal sepsis.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4)—one of eight goals agreed by world leaders in 2000 to eradicate extreme poverty globally—aims to reduce under-five mortality (deaths) to one-third of its 1990 level (12 million deaths). Progress towards reducing child mortality has accelerated recently, but MDG4 is unlikely to be met, partly because of slow progress towards reducing neonatal mortality—deaths during the first 28 days of life. Neonatal deaths now account for a greater proportion of global child deaths than in 1990. Nearly half of the children who die before their fifth birthday die during the neonatal period, with babies born in low-middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia being at the highest risk of neonatal death. Bacterial infections such as infections of the bloodstream (bacteremia/sepsis), lungs (pneumonia), and the brain's protective covering (meningitis) are responsible for a quarter of neonatal deaths. Newborns can acquire infections during birth by picking up bacteria (in particular Group B streptococcus or GBS) that are present in their mother's reproductive tract and that may or may not cause disease in the mother. Bacteria colonizing the maternal perineum (the area between the anus and the vagina) can move up the vaginal canal into the amniotic sac (the fluid-filled bag in which the baby develops). Maternal bacteremia is another source of bacterial transmission from mother to fetus. Other risk factors for neonatal infection include pre-labor rupture of the membranes (PROM) of the amniotic sac, preterm PROM, and prolonged rupture of membranes.
Why Was This Study Done?
In high-income settings, prophylactic (preventative) antibiotic treatment during labor (based on microbiological screening or risk factors such as PROM) and early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis in newborn babies has greatly reduced deaths from early-onset neonatal bacterial infection. Yet, relatively little is known about the risk factors and transmission pathways for this condition globally. In this global systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers estimate the risk of neonatal bacterial infections (excluding sexually transmitted diseases) among newborns of mothers with bacterial infection or colonization around the time of birth. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 83 studies (only seven of which were undertaken in settings with high neonatal mortality) that included data on laboratory-confirmed maternal infection, maternal infection indicated by clinical signs and symptoms, maternal colonization (positive bacterial cultures from the reproductive tract without any signs or symptoms of infection), or risk factors for infection such as PROM and data on neonatal infection (laboratory-confirmed or clinically indicated) or colonization. Because different studies used different definitions for infection and colonization, the researchers pooled the data from subsets of the studies using random effects meta-analysis, which allows for heterogeneity (inconsistencies) between studies. Newborns of mothers with laboratory-confirmed infection had a 6.6-fold higher risk of laboratory-confirmed infection than newborns born to mothers without laboratory-confirmed infection. Newborns of mothers with bacterial colonization had a 9.4-fold higher risk of laboratory-confirmed infection than newborns of non-colonized mothers. Finally, compared to newborns of mothers without risk factors for infection, newborns of mothers with PROM or other risk factors had a 2.3-fold higher risk of infection.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that an increased risk of early-onset neonatal infection is associated with maternal infection and maternal colonization and provide some quantification of the excess risk. Because all the studies were facility-based and mostly from urban settings in high-income countries, these findings provide no information about the risk of neonatal infection among home births, rural births or births at community facilities in low-income countries, which limits their generalizability. Other aspects of the studies included in this systematic review and meta-analysis are also likely to limit the accuracy of the findings. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that better diagnosis and treatment of maternal infections and colonization in low- to middle-income countries where neonatal mortality is high might substantially reduce the incidence of neonatal infections and that the development of a simple algorithm that combines clinical signs and risk factors to diagnose maternal infections might be useful in regions where laboratory facilities are unavailable. Moreover, they highlight the need for more studies of maternal and neonatal infection and colonization in resource-poor settings with high neonatal mortality.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001502.
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on Millennium Development Goal 4 and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about neonatal survival and health; its Committing to Child Survival: a Promise Renewed webpage includes links to its 2012 progress report and to a video about how new health centers are helping India battle high neonatal death rates
The World Health Organization has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and about newborn health (some information in several languages)
Countdown to 2015 provides additional information on maternal, newborn, and child survival, including its 2012 report Building a Future for Women and Children
Kidshealth, a resource provided by the not-for-profit Nemours Foundation, has information on neonatal infections for parents (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page on neonatal sepsis (in English and Spanish)
A personal story about fatal neonatal bacterial meningitis is available on the website of Meningitis UK, a not-for profit organization; the site also includes a survivor story
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001502
PMCID: PMC3747995  PMID: 23976885
21.  Child Mortality Estimation: A Global Overview of Infant and Child Mortality Age Patterns in Light of New Empirical Data 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001299.
Michel Guillot and colleagues did a systematic evaluation to assess what proportion of under-five mortality occurs below age one compared with at age one and above, to determine how much observed values deviate from so called “model age patterns” of under-five mortality
Background
The under-five mortality rate (the probability of dying between birth and age 5 y, also denoted in the literature as U5MR and 5q0) is a key indicator of child health, but it conceals important information about how this mortality is distributed by age. One important distinction is what amount of the under-five mortality occurs below age 1 y (1q0) versus at age 1 y and above (4q1). However, in many country settings, this distinction is often difficult to establish because of various types of data errors. As a result, it is common practice to resort to model age patterns to estimate 1q0 and 4q1 on the basis of an observed value of 5q0. The most commonly used model age patterns for this purpose are the Coale and Demeny and the United Nations systems. Since the development of these models, many additional sources of data for under-five mortality have become available, making possible a general evaluation of age patterns of infant and child mortality. In this paper, we do a systematic comparison of empirical values of 1q0 and 4q1 against model age patterns, and discuss whether observed deviations are due to data errors, or whether they reflect true epidemiological patterns not addressed in existing model life tables.
Methods and Findings
We used vital registration data from the Human Mortality Database, sample survey data from the World Fertility Survey and Demographic and Health Surveys programs, and data from Demographic Surveillance Systems. For each of these data sources, we compared empirical combinations of 1q0 and 4q1 against combinations provided by Coale and Demeny and United Nations model age patterns. We found that, on the whole, empirical values fall relatively well within the range provided by these models, but we also found important exceptions. Sub-Saharan African countries have a tendency to exhibit high values of 4q1 relative to 1q0, a pattern that appears to arise for the most part from true epidemiological causes. While this pattern is well known in the case of western Africa, we observed that it is more widespread than commonly thought. We also found that the emergence of HIV/AIDS, while perhaps contributing to high relative values of 4q1, does not appear to have substantially modified preexisting patterns. We also identified a small number of countries scattered in different parts of the world that exhibit unusually low values of 4q1 relative to 1q0, a pattern that is not likely to arise merely from data errors. Finally, we illustrate that it is relatively common for populations to experience changes in age patterns of infant and child mortality as they experience a decline in mortality.
Conclusions
Existing models do not appear to cover the entire range of epidemiological situations and trajectories. Therefore, model life tables should be used with caution for estimating 1q0 and 4q1 on the basis of 5q0. Moreover, this model-based estimation procedure assumes that the input value of 5q0 is correct, which may not always be warranted, especially in the case of survey data. A systematic evaluation of data errors in sample surveys and their impact on age patterns of 1q0 and 4q1 is urgently needed, along with the development of model age patterns of under-five mortality that would cover a wider range of epidemiological situations and trajectories.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2000, world leaders agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals designed to end extreme poverty by 2015. The fourth of these goals—MDG 4—aims to reduce under-five mortality (the number of children who die before their fifth birthday) to a third of its 1990 level by 2015. A key indicator used to monitor progress towards this target is the under-five mortality rate (the probability of a child dying before his/her fifth birthday, also denoted as U5MR or 5q0). In developed countries, data collected through vital registration systems (which record all births and deaths) are used to calculate 5q0. However, developing countries, which are where most under-five deaths occur, rarely have vital registration systems, and 5q0 is estimated using data collected by programs such as the World Fertility Survey (WFS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), which conduct nationally representative surveys that ask a sample of women about their living and dead children.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although 5q0 is a key indicator of child health, it conceals important information about the age distribution of child deaths. Public health experts need to know the distribution of 5q0 with respect to 1q0 (the probability that an infant will die before age one) and 4q1 (the probability that a child reaching age one will die below age five) to help them reduce child mortality. At a given level of 5q0, high values of 1q0 indicate high levels of death from congenital (inherited) anomalies and conditions that occur around the time of birth; these deaths can be reduced by improving the care of women during pregnancy and childbirth and the care of newborn babies. By contrast, at a given level of 5q0, high values of 4q1 indicate high levels of death from infectious diseases; these deaths can be reduced by, for example, introducing immunization programs. 1q0 and 4q1 are usually estimated from observed (empirical) values of 5q0 using the Coale and Demeny or United Nations (UN) “model life tables” (mathematical models of the variation of mortality with age), which were constructed in 1966 and 1982, respectively, using the best data available. Since their construction, additional sources of data about under-five mortality have become available; in this study, the researchers systematically compare global empirical values of 1q0 and 4q1 with values obtained using model life tables.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers compared empirical combinations of 1q0 and 4q1 (estimated using vital registration data, WFS and DHS data, and data from Demographic Surveillance Sites in sub-Saharan Africa) with the combinations derived from 5q0 using the Coale and Demeny and UN model life tables. The empirical values mainly fell within the range provided by these tables, but there were important exceptions. For example, empirical values of 4q1 relative to 1q0 tended to be above the range provided by the model life tables for sub-Saharan African countries. This pattern was mainly because of epidemiological reasons (epidemiology is the study of disease patterns in populations), such as the occurrence of diseases such as malaria, measles, and diarrhea that generate excess mortality among children older than one year. Interestingly, the emergence of HIV does not seem to have substantially modified preexisting patterns of 1q0 versus 4q1. Importantly, the researchers also show that populations often experience changes in the age patterns of infant and child mortality as they experience an overall decline in mortality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the existing model life tables do not cover the entire global range of epidemiological situations and trajectories and must, therefore, be used with caution for estimating 1q0 and 4q1 on the basis of 5q0. The development of new model age patterns of under-five mortality that cover a wider range of epidemiological situations should improve this situation, but a systematic analysis of data errors in sample surveys and the impact of such errors on estimates of 1q0 and 4q1 is also urgently needed to ensure that public health experts have access to accurate information on child mortality. Importantly, this overview shows that a wide range of 1q0 and 4q1 combinations can occur at a given level of 5q0. Because the level of 4q1 relative to 1q0 provides important information about the disease processes occurring in a population, this finding highlights the importance of determining 1q0 and 4q1 as well as 5q0 whenever possible.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001299.
This paper is part of a collection of papers on Child Mortality Estimation Methods published in PLOS Medicine
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on Millennium Development Goal 4, and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about child survival and health, including a description of the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation; the 2011 UN IGME report Levels & Trends in Child Mortality is available
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
Information is also available about the Human Mortality Database, which holds vital registration data; the World Fertility Survey program; the Demographic and Health Surveys program; and model life tables
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001299
PMCID: PMC3429403  PMID: 22952438
22.  A Multifaceted Intervention to Implement Guidelines and Improve Admission Paediatric Care in Kenyan District Hospitals: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001018.
Philip Ayieko and colleagues report the outcomes of a cluster-randomized trial carried out in eight Kenyan district hospitals evaluating the effects of a complex intervention involving improved training and supervision for clinicians. They found a higher performance of hospitals assigned to the complex intervention on a variety of process of care measures, as compared to those receiving the control intervention.
Background
In developing countries referral of severely ill children from primary care to district hospitals is common, but hospital care is often of poor quality. However, strategies to change multiple paediatric care practices in rural hospitals have rarely been evaluated.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomized trial was conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals, four of which were randomly assigned to a full intervention aimed at improving quality of clinical care (evidence-based guidelines, training, job aides, local facilitation, supervision, and face-to-face feedback; n = 4) and the remaining four to control intervention (guidelines, didactic training, job aides, and written feedback; n = 4). Prespecified structure, process, and outcome indicators were measured at baseline and during three and five 6-monthly surveys in control and intervention hospitals, respectively. Primary outcomes were process of care measures, assessed at 18 months postbaseline.
In both groups performance improved from baseline. Completion of admission assessment tasks was higher in intervention sites at 18 months (mean = 0.94 versus 0.65, adjusted difference 0.54 [95% confidence interval 0.05–0.29]). Uptake of guideline recommended therapeutic practices was also higher within intervention hospitals: adoption of once daily gentamicin (89.2% versus 74.4%; 17.1% [8.04%–26.1%]); loading dose quinine (91.9% versus 66.7%, 26.3% [−3.66% to 56.3%]); and adequate prescriptions of intravenous fluids for severe dehydration (67.2% versus 40.6%; 29.9% [10.9%–48.9%]). The proportion of children receiving inappropriate doses of drugs in intervention hospitals was lower (quinine dose >40 mg/kg/day; 1.0% versus 7.5%; −6.5% [−12.9% to 0.20%]), and inadequate gentamicin dose (2.2% versus 9.0%; −6.8% [−11.9% to −1.6%]).
Conclusions
Specific efforts are needed to improve hospital care in developing countries. A full, multifaceted intervention was associated with greater changes in practice spanning multiple, high mortality conditions in rural Kenyan hospitals than a partial intervention, providing one model for bridging the evidence to practice gap and improving admission care in similar settings.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42996612
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2008, nearly 10 million children died in early childhood. Nearly all these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries—half were in Africa. In Kenya, for example, 74 out every 1,000 children born died before they reached their fifth birthday. About half of all childhood (pediatric) deaths in developing countries are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Deaths from these common diseases could be prevented if all sick children had access to quality health care in the community (“primary” health care provided by health centers, pharmacists, family doctors, and traditional healers) and in district hospitals (“secondary” health care). Unfortunately, primary health care facilities in developing countries often lack essential diagnostic capabilities and drugs, and pediatric hospital care is frequently inadequate with many deaths occurring soon after admission. Consequently, in 1996, as part of global efforts to reduce childhood illnesses and deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) introduced the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy. This approach to child health focuses on the well-being of the whole child and aims to improve the case management skills of health care staff at all levels, health systems, and family and community health practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
The implementation of IMCI has been evaluated at the primary health care level, but its implementation in district hospitals has not been evaluated. So, for example, interventions designed to encourage the routine use of WHO disease-specific guidelines in rural pediatric hospitals have not been tested. In this cluster randomized trial, the researchers develop and test a multifaceted intervention designed to improve the implementation of treatment guidelines and admission pediatric care in district hospitals in Kenya. In a cluster randomized trial, groups of patients rather than individual patients are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in different “clusters” of patients are compared. In this trial, each cluster is a district hospital.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned eight Kenyan district hospitals to the “full” or “control” intervention, interventions that differed in intensity but that both included more strategies to promote implementation of best practice than are usually applied in Kenyan rural hospitals. The full intervention included provision of clinical practice guidelines and training in their use, six-monthly survey-based hospital assessments followed by face-to-face feedback of survey findings, 5.5 days training for health care workers, provision of job aids such as structured pediatric admission records, external supervision, and the identification of a local facilitator to promote guideline use and to provide on-site problem solving. The control intervention included the provision of clinical practice guidelines (without training in their use) and job aids, six-monthly surveys with written feedback, and a 1.5-day lecture-based seminar to explain the guidelines. The researchers compared the implementation of various processes of care (activities of patients and doctors undertaken to ensure delivery of care) in the intervention and control hospitals at baseline and 18 months later. The performance of both groups of hospitals improved during the trial but more markedly in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. At 18 months, the completion of admission assessment tasks and the uptake of guideline-recommended clinical practices were both higher in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. Moreover, a lower proportion of children received inappropriate doses of drugs such as quinine for malaria in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that specific efforts are needed to improve pediatric care in rural Kenya and suggest that interventions that include more approaches to changing clinical practice may be more effective than interventions that include fewer approaches. These findings are limited by certain aspects of the trial design, such as the small number of participating hospitals, and may not be generalizable to other hospitals in Kenya or to hospitals in other developing countries. Thus, although these findings seem to suggest that efforts to implement and scale up improved secondary pediatric health care will need to include more than the production and dissemination of printed materials, further research including trials or evaluation of test programs are necessary before widespread adoption of any multifaceted approach (which will need to be tailored to local conditions and available resources) can be contemplated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018.
WHO provides information on efforts to reduce global child mortality and on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI); the WHO pocket book “Hospital care for children contains guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources (available in several languages)
UNICEF also provides information on efforts to reduce child mortality and detailed statistics on child mortality
The iDOC Africa Web site, which is dedicated to improving the delivery of hospital care for children and newborns in Africa, provides links to the clinical guidelines and other resources used in this study
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018
PMCID: PMC3071366  PMID: 21483712
23.  Incidence and Clinical Characteristics of Group A Rotavirus Infections among Children Admitted to Hospital in Kilifi, Kenya  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(7):e153.
Background
Rotavirus, predominantly of group A, is a major cause of severe diarrhoea worldwide, with the greatest burden falling on young children living in less-developed countries. Vaccines directed against this virus have shown promise in recent trials, and are undergoing effectiveness evaluation in sub-Saharan Africa. In this region limited childhood data are available on the incidence and clinical characteristics of severe group A rotavirus disease. Advocacy for vaccine intervention and interpretation of effectiveness following implementation will benefit from accurate base-line estimates of the incidence and severity of rotavirus paediatric admissions in relevant populations. The study objective was to accurately define the incidence and severity of group A rotavirus disease in a resource-poor setting necessary to make informed decisions on the need for vaccine prevention.
Methods and Findings
Between 2002 and 2004 we conducted prospective surveillance for group A rotavirus infection at Kilifi District Hospital in coastal Kenya. Children < 13 y of age were eligible as “cases” if admitted with diarrhoea, and “controls” if admitted without diarrhoea. We calculated the incidence of hospital admission with group A rotavirus using data from a demographic surveillance study of 220,000 people in Kilifi District. Of 15,347 childhood admissions 3,296 (22%) had diarrhoea, 2,039 were tested for group A rotavirus antigen and, of these, 588 (29%) were positive. 372 (63%) rotavirus-positive cases were infants. Of 620 controls 19 (3.1%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.9–4.7) were rotavirus positive. The annual incidence (per 100,000 children) of rotavirus-positive admissions was 1,431 (95% CI 1,275–1,600) in infants and 478 (437–521) in under-5-y-olds, and highest proximal to the hospital. Compared to children with rotavirus-negative diarrhoea, rotavirus-positive cases were less likely to have coexisting illnesses and more likely to have acidosis (46% versus 17%) and severe electrolyte imbalance except hyponatraemia. In-hospital case fatality was 2% among rotavirus-positive and 9% among rotavirus-negative children.
Conclusions
In Kilifi > 2% of children are admitted to hospital with group A rotavirus diarrhoea in the first 5 y of life. This translates into over 28,000 vaccine-preventable hospitalisations per year across Kenya, and is likely to be a considerable underestimate. Group A rotavirus diarrhoea is associated with acute life-threatening metabolic derangement in otherwise healthy children. Although mortality is low in this clinical research setting this may not be generally true in African hospitals lacking rapid and appropriate management.
Combining prospective hospital-based surveillance with demographic data in Kilifi, Kenya, James Nokes and colleagues assess the burden of rotavirus diarrhea in young children.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Rotavirus is a leading global cause of diarrhea in babies and young children. Indeed, most children become infected at least once with this virus before their fifth birthday. Rotavirus is usually spread by children or their caregivers failing to wash their hands properly after going to the toilet and then contaminating food or drink. The symptoms of rotavirus infection—diarrhea, vomiting, and fever—are usually mild, but if the diarrhea is severe it can quickly lead to dehydration. Mild to moderate dehydration can be treated at home by providing the patient with plenty of fluids or with a special rehydration drink that replaces lost water and salts. However, for infants or toddlers who become severely dehydrated, rehydration with intravenous fluids (fluids injected directly into a vein) in hospital may be essential. Unfortunately, in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, this treatment is not widely available and every year more than half a million young children die from rotavirus infections.
Why Was This Study Done?
Two rotavirus vaccines that could reduce this burden of disease are currently undergoing clinical trials to determine their effectiveness in sub-Saharan Africa. However, very little is known about the incidence of severe rotavirus infections among children living in this region (that is, how many children develop severe disease every year) or about the clinical characteristics of the disease here. Public-health officials need this baseline information before they can make informed decisions about the mass introduction of rotavirus vaccination and to help them judge whether the intervention has been successful if it is introduced. In this study, the researchers examine the incidence and clinical characteristics of rotavirus infections (specifically, group A rotavirus [GARV] infections; there are several different rotaviruses but GARV causes most human infections) among children admitted to the district hospital in Kilifi, Kenya.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
During the 3-year study, more than 15,000 children under the age of 13 years were admitted to Kilifi District Hospital, a little under a quarter of whom had severe diarrhea. Nearly a third of the patients admitted with diarrhea who were tested had a GARV-specific protein in their stools (faeces); by contrast, only three in 100 children admitted without diarrhea showed any evidence of GARV infection. Two-thirds of the GARV-positive children were infants (under 1 year old). Using these figures and health surveillance data (records of births, deaths, and causes of death) collected in the area around the hospital, the researchers calculated that the annual incidence (per 100,000 children) of GARV-positive hospital admissions in the region was 1,431 for infants and 478 for children under age 5 years. Children with GARV-positive diarrhea were less likely to have other illnesses (for example, malnutrition) than those admitted with GARV-negative diarrhea, the researchers report, but were more likely to have life-threatening complications such as severe dehydration and salt imbalances in their blood. However, despite being more ill on admission, only 1 in 50 children with GARV-positive diarrhea died, compared to nearly 1 in 10 of the children with GARV-negative diarrhea; the GARV-positive children also left hospital quicker than those who were GARV-negative.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that severe GARV-positive diarrhea is a major cause of hospital admission among otherwise healthy young children in the Kilifi region of Kenya. By the time they are 5 years old, the researchers estimate that 1 in 50 of the children living in this region will have been admitted to hospital with severe GARV-positive diarrhea. Because rotavirus vaccines prevent virtually all severe rotavirus-associated disease (at least in developed countries where their effectiveness has been extensively tested), the researchers estimate that vaccination might prevent more than 28,000 hospitalizations annually across Kenya; however, this prediction assumes that it is valid to extrapolate from the data obtained from this one district hospital to the entire country.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050153.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about rotavirus infections, surveillance, and vaccination (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Direct health encyclopedia provides information on rotavirus infections
MedlinePlus also provides links to information on rotavirus (in English and Spanish)
The African Rotavirus Surveillance Network is working to improve knowledge about rotavirus infections in Africa
The Rotavirus Vaccine Program aims to reduce child illness and death from diarrhea by increasing the availability of rotavirus vaccines in developing countries (in English and Spanish)
PATH, a nonprofit international organization that aims to create sustainable, culturally relevant solutions to global health problems, also provides detailed information on rotavirus surveillance and disease burden
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050153
PMCID: PMC2488191  PMID: 18651787
24.  Intraosseous Vascularity of the Distal Radius: Anatomy and Clinical Implications in Distal Radius Fractures 
Hand (New York, N.Y.)  2009;4(4):418-423.
This study aimed to describe the intraosseous blood supply of the distal radius and its clinical implications in distal radius fractures. Twelve adult wrists from fresh cadavers (six males, six females, 50–90 years of age, mean 68 years) were injected through the brachial artery with latex. Dissections were performed using magnifying loupes and hands were processed using the Spalteholz technique. The distal radius was supplied by three main vascular systems: epiphyseal, metaphyseal, and diaphyseal. The palmar epiphyseal vessels branched from the radial artery, palmar carpal arch, and anterior branch of the anterior interosseous artery. These vessels entered the bone through the radial styloid process at level of the Lister's tubercle but palmar and sigmoid notch. The dorsal contribution to Lister's tubercle is to the dorsal epiphyseal vessels. The intraosseous point of entry to the dorsal epiphyseal vessels was from the fourth and fifth extensor compartment arteries. In the metaphyseal area, we found numerous periosteal and cortical branches originating deep in the pronator quadratus and the anterior interosseous artery. These branches provided the main supply to the distal radius. Vessels perforated the bone and formed an anastomotic network. In the diaphyseal area, only the nutrient vessel provided intraosseous vascularity in the distal radius. Numerous metaphyseal–epiphyseal branches arise within the pronator quadratus and the anterior interosseous artery and course towards the distal radius. These branches may be fundamental to the healing of the distal radius fractures and make nonunion a rare complication.
doi:10.1007/s11552-009-9204-9
PMCID: PMC2787224  PMID: 19475457
Distal radius; Intraosseous vascularization; Radius vascularity; Spalteholz technique
25.  Nanodomain coupling explains Ca2+ independence of transmitter release time course at a fast central synapse 
eLife  null;3:e04057.
A puzzling property of synaptic transmission, originally established at the neuromuscular junction, is that the time course of transmitter release is independent of the extracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]o), whereas the rate of release is highly [Ca2+]o-dependent. Here, we examine the time course of release at inhibitory basket cell-Purkinje cell synapses and show that it is independent of [Ca2+]o. Modeling of Ca2+-dependent transmitter release suggests that the invariant time course of release critically depends on tight coupling between Ca2+ channels and release sensors. Experiments with exogenous Ca2+ chelators reveal that channel-sensor coupling at basket cell-Purkinje cell synapses is very tight, with a mean distance of 10–20 nm. Thus, tight channel-sensor coupling provides a mechanistic explanation for the apparent [Ca2+]o independence of the time course of release.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.04057.001
eLife digest
The nervous system sends information around the body in the form of electrical signals that travel through cells called neurons. However, these electrical signals cannot cross the synapses between neurons. Instead, the information is carried across the synapse by molecules called neurotransmitters.
Calcium ions control the release of neurotransmitters. There is a high concentration of calcium ions outside the neuron but they are not able to pass through the cell membrane under normal conditions. However, when an electrical impulse reaches the synapse, ion channels in the membrane open and allow calcium ions to enter the cell. Once inside, the ions activate the release of neurotransmitters by binding to proteins called release sensors.
Several experiments on the release of neurotransmitters have studied the synapses between neurons and muscle fibers. These studies found that the higher the concentration of ions outside the neuron, the higher the rate at which the neurotransmitters were released. However, the timing of release—the length of time over which the neurotransmitters were released—did not depend on the concentration of calcium ions.
Arai and Jonas have now studied neurotransmitter release at a synapse in a region of the brain called the cerebellum. These experiments also found that the timing of the release did not depend on the ion concentration, suggesting that this may be a general property of neurotransmitter release.
To find out more, Arai and Jonas created a mathematical model of neurotransmitter release. This model suggests that for the timing of release to remain the same, the ion channel and the release sensor must be located close together in the presynaptic terminal. If they are not close together, the timing of release becomes blurred and more dependent on the external calcium concentration.
Further experiments confirm the prediction of the model by showing that the calcium channels and the release sensors in these synapses are very close together. The next challenge will be to find out whether the conclusions are also valid for other synapses where the calcium channels and release sensors are further apart.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.04057.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.04057
PMCID: PMC4270082  PMID: 25487988
cerebellar basket cells; time course of transmitter release; nanodomain coupling; GABAergic synapses; Ca2+ channels; release sensors; mouse

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